"Bless me, Neptune, I have sinned."
"Yes, my son. What is the nature of this sin?"
"I have led my family out of the promised land. I have turned my back on one of your most bounteous gifts. I have blasphemed one of your offspring."
"Oh. In what manner?"
"I... We... Our family..."
"Just say it, lad, You'll feel better."
"We opted for a 2017 vacation that was not Ocean City, NJ..."
This branch of the Weckerly clan chose not to go to Ocean City this year.
Worse, we did have a beach vacation. But rather than the familiar sands of South Jersey, we chose instead the bleached sands of Cancun, Mexico.
The reasons were many. For one, our 2016 vacation in OCNJ was a little bumpy. We opted for closer proximity to the beach, so we took a house on Central Avenue, increasing our budget to accommodate the accommodations.
Our error was in not seeing the place for ourselves. We booked based on Internet info. Which wasn't as forthcoming as we would have liked.
The apartment did put us close to the beach. But it was also a little on the rickety side. The increase in investment didn't really pay off.
Second, we were still saddled with the pack-horse chore of getting to the beach each day. In the heat of the mid-morning sun, each of us loaded up with chairs, towels, sunscreen, books, umbrella, lunch, beach tags, money, iPODs, Kindles, newspapers, games, water bottles and cash.
And if the weather happened to sour while we were there, all that gear had to be reassembled and shlepped back to the house, posthaste.
We also, as tradition holds, braved the Boardwalk a few nights. Played some mini-golf. Ate some Mack & Manco's (corporate rebrand be damned). Bought t-shires. Went out for a "fancy" dinner. Slept in late. Ate too much. Etc. Etc. Etc.
All very enjoyable, but all very standard.
So our Mexican decision was an offshoot of the general feeling about our OCNJ family vacations: Maybe there's something better than this.
Especially considering the dollar outlay. Couldn't we, we wondered, spend about the same but go somewhere not requiring so much work?
Factor two was in the timing.
Claire, middle daughter, snagged herself a sweet summer job, monitoring corn production as part of an ag project in Lancaster County.
Bad news was that because July and August is prime corn-growing season, her employer asked that no extended vacations be taken during that timeframe.
The Jersey Shore in June sounded awfully chilly to us.
So Mexico it was. We shortened the stay to less than a week, in deference to keeping the cash outlay in the neighborhood of our usual NJ outlay.
The hotel was nice; its all-inclusive setup eliminated a credit-card meltdown along the way. We took one excursion into an underground river, which was unforgettable, and well worth the additional outlay.
We also lined up for meals, ala a cruise line. The food was well prepared and attractively served but nothing spectacular.
But to be fair, The Lobster House in Cape May isn't exactly a five-fork dining experience, either.
In the end, we had a very enjoyable family vacation.
It rained. A lot.
We made due as best we could. Got to the beach while it was relatively dry. Scurried back inside when it poured.
I couldn't help feel the irony of having passed on a beach vacation in Ocean City where we invariably spend time around a table playing Uno... To go to Mexico and spend time around a table playing Uno.
Thou art a jealous god!